Wisconsin to Launch Recount as Stein Fundraising Effort Continues

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Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein during an August 2016 appearance in Washington, D.C.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Related story: Clinton Campaign: 'We're Joining Recount Effort'

Updated 12:45 a.m. Saturday

The Wisconsin Elections Commission announced Friday that it would hold a statewide recount of the presidential vote. The move was in response to petitions from two candidates, the state said: the Green Party's Jill Stein and independent Rocky Roque De La Fuente.

Federal law requires that all recounts be finished 35 days after the election, which is Dec. 13.

Stein launched a fundraising effort on Wednesday to pay for recounts in the three tightly contested states that were crucial to Donald Trump's apparent Electoral College victory: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stein's appeal, which initially sought to raise $2.5 million by Friday afternoon -- Wisconsin's deadline -- had brought in $5.6 million by early Saturday.

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Wisconsin officials said the recount machinery is already in motion.

"We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice," said Wisconsin Elections Commission Director Mike Haas in a statement.

"We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating."

Haas added that the process is very detail-oriented and he is concerned that some counties will be challenged to finish on time. In a recount, ballots must be examined to determine voter intent before being counted.

Stein's fundraiser website explicitly says the campaign is not an effort to help Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but to "ensure the integrity of our elections." Clinton has not commented on the efforts.

Pennsylvania's deadline to file for a recount is Monday and Michigan's is Wednesday.

Stein initially set a fundraising goal of $2.5 million. As donations started pouring in, that goal jumped to $4.5 million, as New York Magazine's Yashar Ali pointed out on Twitter.

By Friday, the goal had jumped again to $7 million. The campaign says that will go to cover filing fees, attorney fees and other associated costs.

Donations are still rolling in, but as Stein's fundraising website states, money doesn't necessarily mean the recounts are assured. The site says: "We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states."

If the recounts don't happen, what will become of all that money? Stein's website says any "surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform." It did not specify what those efforts would be.

As NPR's Camila Domonoske told the Newscast unit, "Some security and election experts have publicly called for paper ballots to be checked in Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan, to make sure that the computers that counted those ballots weren't hacked." But, she says, "There's no evidence that the electronic machines were hacked or the election was compromised."

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